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The second Zocalo Book Prize goes to Richard Sennett's 'Together'

March 15, 2012 | 12:40 pm

Together_richardsennettZócalo Public Square has announced that its second annual book prize will go to Richard Sennett's "Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Co-Operation." The prize comes with an award of $5,000.

Zócalo, which holds a series of public discussions throughout the year in Los Angeles and beyond, created the book prize to recognize a nonfiction book that deeps our understanding of community. Last year the inaugural prize went to Peter Lovenheim for "In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time."

"Together" was selected from a shortlist of three books that also included "Is That A Fish In Your Ear: Translation and the Meaning of Everything" by David Bellos and "Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other" by Sherry Turkle.

Sennett, who has been both a chamber musician and a professor at the London School of Economics, spoke to Zócalo about his book.

I find the biggest misreading of what I’m trying to say is that cooperation is something that’s a moral choice, something you do because you’re such a nice person. That, it seems to me, is really to misunderstand how human societies get constituted, how people develop as children, and so on. If you moralize cooperation, if you say, “I’m a good person, so I cooperate,” you lose the richness of the thing — everything from cooperating on a sports team, in which you’re competing against other people, to warfare, in which people cooperate in order to survive. It loses the complexity of the subject.

Sennett will speak at an April 13 Zócalo event at the Museum of Contemporary Art on the topic "Can Diverse Societies Cohere?" Tickets to the event, which is sponsored by the Southern California Gas Co., are free.


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-- Carolyn Kellogg